Return to America

This is my last night in Haiti. As you migh surmise by the multiple consecutive sentences, I’m not pushing blogs via text messages from my cell phone anymore.

We’re spending our last night in Port Au Prince at a large compound called Matthew 25 House.  Think of it as a half-way house for earstwhile 1st worlders whose entire extistental reality has been warped, perhaps beyond repair.  They ease us back in slowly, just to be safe.  We might get run over by cars or start turning over tables in the first Wal Mart we see.  I’m in fact, instead of my cell phone, I’m writing blog on a strange, keyed device I’m told is called a computer.

My wife recently informed me – also via text, the lingua franca of frugal international travelers – that I left the U.S. an unimpressive 12 days ago.  But an experience like this shocks a person so thoroughly that the reaction can be thoroughly visceral. 12 days seems so gauche, so proletarian, so obtuse so…so…so INSIGNIFICANT.

I suppose a distinction should be drawn between the physical, material self and the spiritual, emotional one in a case like this.  Airplanes are to blame, by the way.  They’re too damn fast.  One minute I’m rolling around the floor with my 3-year old boy on carpet, and a mere few hours later (most of which I slept through) I’m thrust into a world and life so demarked from the one I left that every minute feels more like a day.

I feel like I’ve been gone for years.  Some emotional cul-de-sac in my mind worries that when I see my family tomorrow, the kids will be all grown and resentful that I left them to help out a bunch of ailing Hatians.  Things like towels, couches, drinkable shower water and temperatures below 75 degrees feel like mere concepts at this point.

I took a shower for the first time in more than a week and found myself circumspectly pondering the wonders drains and mirrors (I haven’t seen myself in the whole 2 weeks other than a few digital pics at a glance).  The toilet flushed.  It didn’t smell.  All things that, when taken away for even a moment, change a middle-class American existence dramatically and instantly.  Time moves glacially, etching new perspective and sensual reality into an over-fed life.

Many details of this time made it into my journal.  Actual paper, by the way.  Strange concept in this digital universe.  Over time, I’ll post these stories.  But it will take time.  The complicated web woven by my time in this dark land won’t be undone without effort and introspection…and a longer lense of contemplation.

Thanks to all of you who have tuned in and left your comments.  I do think you are in for some wonderful stories.  Just as soon as I can remember how to exist in “my” world again.

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